Thirteen years ago, the events of September 11th were a shock to all of us. It was the first time our homeland was touched by international terror, and it was a jarring wake-up call about how vulnerable we are here in this "land of the free."
For all of us, that day was so painful, even if we were fortunate enough not to have lost a family member or a friend. But here in New York, it hurt us extra hard. We saw a familiar icon -- two towers of steel -- crumble before our eyes, killing thousands. We saw and smelled the horrible smoke from the rubble for weeks. We got jumpy every time we heard a plane overhead. Our hearts broke when, everywhere we looked, we saw handmade signs plastered on lampposts and walls; signs with pictures and descriptions of people under the word "Missing."
Every year, we remember as a nation. The media carry stories, and we watch all or parts of the ceremonies at Ground Zero, in D.C. and elsewhere. It's part of a healing process, and it's very important that we, as a nation, remember.
But do we need marketers trying to hawk their wares and offer discounts by linking to the 9/11 commemoration? Social media makes it too easy for them to try to use a day of reflection as a marketing moment. What are they thinking?
Nat Ives, writing yesterday in Advertising Age, poses that question in a story titled:
Marketers Again Mistakenly Think 9/11 Is a Good Brand-Building Moment
Thanks for the Discounts, but No Thanks
Nat writes, "It's become an annual ritual: trying to convince marketers that the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, which killed almost 3,000 people, is not the right subject for engaging consumers.
It's possible for advertisers to come up with respectful tweets, of course. White Castle wrapped the World Trade Center towers in American flag imagery and told followers "We remember." And Cinnabon got involved with a somber flag image."
And many of us may remember a Budweiser ad that ran only once, a respectful several days after the tragedy. It showed the famous Clydesdale horses pulling the Bud wagon, crossing the country from the midwest, across the Brooklyn Bridge (never mind the geography mistake) and stopping on Central Park's great lawn to stand silently, facing south to where the towers once stood.
But as Nat points out, this is no time to launch a sale or offer special 9/11 discount coupons.
Nat's story shows some tacky examples. The agencies or marketing executives who approved these should be ashamed.